Clark Gregg Reflects on His 12 Years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Clark Gregg has been an important staple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception. The actor first appeared as Phil Coulson in 2008's Iron Man and showed up again in Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers, and Captain Marvel. However, most of his time as Coulson has now been spent on Agents of SHIELD, which is less than a week away from premiering its seventh and final season. Recently, Gregg spoke with Variety about his time in the MCU and talked about whether he'd play the beloved character again once the series is over. He also took the time to reflect on his 12 years in the franchise after being asked about some of his favorite Agents of SHIELD memories and what it has meant to play the character for so long.

"I thought Coulson was dead, and I thought I was done with that character, but the whole pitch from Joss Whedon was: Turns out, there’s a big secret there," Gregg began. "You’re not dead, you’re on TV, and there’s a huge mystery Season 1 about why you’re not dead. And now you’re with a new team of some young and inexperienced people who will become a family to you. Because you will go through some bumpy times and some triumphs and your only ability to survive and transcend it will be in how you end up working together and committing to each other. To find myself as Coulson as no longer a kind of tertiary, in the shadows operative, but a leader — all of that was a tremendous gift. And to be able to do it as a local production with crews at home, me getting to see my daughter after school each day, not shooting in another state, but in Culver City — it was spectacular. I have deep, deep gratitude. It will a sad day when I watched the last episode of this on air."

He added, "I still sometimes have a hard time believing that this happened. You know, you stand around craft service when you have a small part for a week or two on Iron Man, and you think, 'Boy, what if they started adding scenes for this guy? Wouldn’t that be amazing? They really should, if they were smart.' But that never happens. To have that happen, and then be in other movies, and then, 'Oh you have a big arc in The Avengers.' What?! And then to think that I had this amazing run that kept me here [in Los Angeles] and gave me a bunch of people I love. I feel incredibly fortunate. Also, to have connected with fans around the world. It’s not a character that usually connects with people. I think Coulson really landed for people and became this thing because they needed a normal person like them, vulnerable like them, in the middle of that world. It’s really moving to me. Based on what’s going on in the world right now, to have been a character actor, you know, to have had a chance to make a living, keep my family fed with consistent work, sometimes long enough seasons that I could put away a little bit of money — all that’s up for grabs right now. It’s gonna be a different time. I want to figure out how my friends who are actors, who have families to support, how they’re going to make a living, both just in pre-COVID world of 13 episodes here and there, and with COVID, how we’re going to make production work. It’s hard not to feel especially grateful given that this [show] happened before all that."

Agents of SHIELD returns on May 27th.